BALFOUR, Mary Townley (c.1733-1789). ALS to Mr Mitchell. 1781?

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BALFOUR, Mary Townley (c.1733-1789). Autograph letter signed M.Balfour, to Mr Mitchell, Febr 16th/ 81[?], 4 sides of a 4to bifolium, supporting and advising her young correspondent in his wish for a commission in the army: “my earnest wish to promote every opportunity for this purpose I have ventured to recommend you to Lord Inchiquin and to join him in a request to General Haviland for an Ensignsy in the 45th Regt.  General H:  has been so good as to grant you that favour, & it will be necessary that you should first see & talk to the Genr: before you are presented to my Lord Amherst to this end, I desire you will go over to Penn on Sunday next and that you will particularly receive and afford to the Generals instructions & advice be assured he is a better judge what a young man ought to do, to become a good Soldier, than the foolish talk of giddy young men who have not had opportunities of learning their duty may tell you”, and admonishing him for his recent conduct “Remember that any fault now of the same nature that you have been guilty of to Mr. Middleton, (I mean neglect of orders), & the commands of your superiors, will inevitably ruin you for ever, & that it will be impossible for any friends you may now have, to own you or see you more.  I have very great hopes that you have seen and suffered for your past misconduct, and that it will influence your future lifeI can not imagine what you meant by writing to Lord In: that you are nineteen, it is more shocking that a person of that age should be faulty than if younger, & to me you have always said you were but 15 or 16 ever since you writ that letter your attempting to impose on either Ld In or myself on this occasion is not consistent with the character of a Gentleman”. Paper with multi folds.

Mary Townley Balfour was born Mary Aston, about 1733 in Drogheda, Louth, Ireland. She married William Charles Townley Balfour MP for Carlingford in 1754, but he died in 1759 leaving his estates to his uncle, Blayney Balfour. Mary’s sister Salusbury Aston, born c.1731 married William Haviland (c1727-1784), who served in the army seeing action in North America and the West Indies. Haviland was appointed colonel of the 45th Foot in 1767, and established a home for his family at Tyler's Green House, Penn, Buckinghamshire. The Havilands (and by family association Mary Balfour) were close friends of the politician and author Edmund Burke, and after General Haviland’s death his widow and children were looked after by Burke (their son married Burke’s niece). Another friend and neighbour in common was the Irish peer, soldier and politician Murrough O'Brien, 5th Earl of Inchiquin (1726 –1808) of Taplow Court, Buckinghamshire. Lord Macartney wrote of Mary Balfour and Salusbury Haviland  in a letter to Lady Upper Ossory in 1780 “Mrs Haviland is quite a treat, but her sister Mrs Balfour, is ten thousand times more so ……… They are Irish Ladies, I presume you know by her Tongue, which is truly overcoming. – Mrs Balfour was a particular favourite of Lord Inchiquin’s and lived some yeas at Chequers, near Cliesden”.


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